Understanding the Fight Against Human Trafficking
May 9, 2017
It is estimated that 20.9 million people globally are victims of modern day slavery. This multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry can strip its victims of their freedom through many forms, from prostitution to involuntary servitude, and can happen anywhere.
NYU Washington, DC welcomed U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Cindy McCain for a dialogue on the fight to #EndHumanTrafficking.
Meet the Panel
Senator Heidi Heitkamp
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp is the first female senator elected from North Dakota. In her first term, she has quickly become a leader among her colleagues in the fight against human trafficking – first sounding the alarm bells on human trafficking as a law enforcement issue in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in 2013 – where she now serves as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management.
She cosponsored and helped pass the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act which President Obama signed into law, which helped secure stricter punishments for traffickers and included her bill to provide safe harbor laws nationwide to make sure victims of these crimes are treated as victims, not criminals. After working to hold the CEO of Backpage.com – a site notoriously used by traffickers to buy and sell victims – accountable for refusing to testify on his company’s failure to disclose safeguards against trafficking, she voted to hold him in civil contempt of Congress, the first time the Senate had done so in 20 years. Earlier this year, Heitkamp challenged leadership of Backpage for its role in the facilitation of human trafficking on its site when the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, on which she serves, released a report finding the company knowingly facilitated online sex trafficking. She recently reintroduced her bipartisan SOAR Act to make sure health workers have the training they need to identify and help protect victims they frequently see, and will keep fighting to help make sure our most vulnerable – our runaway and homeless youth – don’t fall prey to these crimes. She continues to work to build a strong global network of support against these crimes, traveling to Mexico, Central America and across the country, as well as engaging North Dakota community leaders and law enforcement in the fight against these crimes with multiple U.S. Department of Homeland Security trainings.
Mrs. Cindy Hensley McCain has spent her life fighting on behalf of women and children, and has been a strong leader in the fight against human trafficking.
From serving as the Chair of The McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the Arizona Governor’s Council on Human Trafficking. She works seamlessly across political, public, and private lines and has engaged with the National Football League, The International Center for Sports Security, both the Democratic Republican National Committees, Polaris, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Google and many other organizations to work to eradicate human trafficking. She has advised members in the fight against trafficking in London, Kenya, Congo, Cambodia and the Ivory Coast.
Cindy serves as co-chair of the Arizona Governor's Council on human trafficking and on the McCain Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. She is dedicated to efforts to reduce human trafficking in Arizona, throughout the United States and around the world, as well as working to improve the lives of victims of human trafficking. Through her work with the McCain Institute, several partnerships have been formed with anti-trafficking organizations working on solving various aspects of the problem.
Mrs. McCain has worked to shed a light on the different facets of every day life that are affected by human trafficking, such as law enforcement, healthcare, the internet and child welfare systems. She addresses human trafficking at an international level, by heading directly to the frontlines of the world with the most vulnerable populations subject to human trafficking. On the shorelines of Greece and Turkey, Mrs. McCain worked with organizations to educate refugees on the signs of human trafficking and how to avoid falling prey to traffickers. She has travelled extensively around the world learning more about the issue and the multitude of ways to fight this heinous crime.
She is on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E and also sits on the Advisory Boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters. Cindy holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master's in Special Education from USC and is a member of the USC Rossier School of Education Board of Councilors.
Mrs. Cindy Hensley McCain passionately fights to stop human trafficking by convening academics, politicians, corporation officials, and technology experts to work together to stop this crime against humanity.
Janie Chuang (Moderator)
Janie Chuang is a Professor of Law who teaches and writes in the areas of international law, human trafficking and labor migration. Drawing on her expertise on human trafficking issues, Professor Chuang has served as an adviser to the United Nations, the International Labor Organization, and the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Professor Chuang has also served in leadership positions with the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association. Professor Chuang was a 2011-2012 Open Society Foundations Fellow. Prior to joining AUWCL, Chuang practiced with the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, representing foreign governments in international litigation/arbitration and pro bono clients in asylum and human rights cases. Professor Chuang’s articles have appeared in the American Journal of International Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, and the North Carolina Law Review, and have been cited in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Guardian, among others.
Professor Chuang currently serves as member of the Freedom Network USA, and as a member of the Modern-Day Slavery and Trafficking Working Group for the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University.